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European Champions Cup Sale ready to face rugby's 'Barcelona'

French side Toulon will be eager to bounce back after losing at home for the first time in major European competition last weekend

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Sale boss Steve Diamond has said his side will be up against rugby union's answer to football superpower Barcelona when they face Toulon in the European Champions Cup play

Sale boss Steve Diamond has said his side will be up against rugby union's answer to football superpower Barcelona when they face Toulon in the European Champions Cup

(AFP/File)

Sale boss Steve Diamond has said his side will be up against rugby union's answer to football superpower Barcelona when they face Toulon in the European Champions Cup on Friday.

French side Toulon will be eager to bounce back after losing at home for the first time in major European competition last weekend following a defeat by Saracens, the reigning English and European champions.

Toulon, three-times kings of Europe, boast a wealth of talent that includes Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, Springbok wing Bryan Habana and New Zealand World Cup winner Ma'a Nonu.

A second defeat in a row would leave their hopes of qualification for the knockout stage hanging by a thread and Sale, beaten last week by Welsh side Scarlets, hope to inflict more damage on the big-spenders at their base in Salford, near Manchester.

"In football terms it's a bit like Barcelona coming to town because Toulon are the biggest club in world rugby. We'll see how good they are on Friday night," said Diamond.

"Toulon are the biggest spending team in the world. They're the most successful side over the last five years and we're fortunate enough to have them in the group," the Sale director of rugby added.

"You can see how prominent that is by the size of the crowd -- there's 8,000 tickets sold and the Manchester public come out to watch the big teams. There's no bigger than Toulon.

"Toulon have everything to do. They've got to come to Manchester on a wet, windy night to beat us and get a bonus point -- so the pressure is on them.

"The players have got a gameplan to put in place and if they get that right and put in a really good performance, then perhaps we'll get a win.

"By virtue of us not losing many games over the last four years at home, it makes it a difficult place for sides to come to.

"Toulon were beaten last week taking no points so the pressure is on them really.

"We've just got to do what we do well and perform at the highest level and if we do that we've got a chance."

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